Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Nationwide Mercury Music Prize

The nominations were announced this morning:

Bloc Party – 'Silent Alarm'
Hard-Fi –'Stars Of CCTV'
Kaiser Chiefs – 'Employment'
MIA – 'Arular'
The Magic Numbers – 'The Magic Numbers'
Coldplay – 'X&Y'
The Go! Team – 'Thunder, Lightning Strike'
Antony And The Johnsons – 'I Am A Bird Now'
KT Tunstall – 'Eye To The Telescope'
Maximo Park – 'A Certain Trigger'
Seth Lakeman – 'Kitty Jay'
Polar Bear – 'Held On The Tips Of Fingers'

As ever, many of these options seem safe and predictable (the bland Coldplay, the twee Magic Numbers and the Blur-lite Kaiser Chiefs particularly spring to mind). The Kaiser Chiefs have immediately been elevated to the status of favourites - but surely MIA is exactly the kind of here-today-gone-tomorrow hip production tosh the Mercury judges tend to admire (Roni Size, Talvin Singh etc).

Its interesting that Antony and the Johsons were eligible - born in Chichester but now firmly based in New York. This is by some considerable distance the best album in the list.

It's also pleasing to see Seb Rochford's Polar Bear receive a nomination, although very surprising that it did so over Acoustic Ladyland's more heavily publicised 'Last Chance Disco'. I'd have been tempted to nominate both!

This looks like a very media/corporate list - more so than usual. The rise of Hard-Fi is somewhat baffling to me, and whilst I enjoyed the Magic Numbers live - on record they seem to be insufferably twee and prissy. Bloc Party's nomination is less objectionable but they are hardly musical pioneers. At least they haven't nominated the truly ghastly James Blunt (currently topping both the UK singles and albums charts) and the absence of the overrated Tom Vek is also somewhat surprising. I must confess that I know absolutely nothing about Seth Lakeman.

As ever, most of the key British albums of the last twelve months are notable by their absence.
Where are:

Patrick Wolf - Wind In The Wires
British Sea Power - Open Season
Jamie Lidell - Multiply
Roots Manuva - Awfully Deep
Four Tet - Everything Ecstatic
Brooks - Red Tape
Teenage Fanclub - Man-made (I don't think this was eligible)
Doves - Some Cities
King Creosote - Rocket DIY

Sadly Matthew Herbert's essential Plat du Jour and the Clor album seem to have been released too late (25th July) to be eligible this year. That means they will no doubt miss out on next year's award as well.

Polar Bear and Antony and the Johnsons are the only nominated albums of sufficient quality to merit receiving an award. Will the judges show that they have sense and taste this year?

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